She’s got eggs. Knows how to use ‘em

Like Mr Perry in last night’s BBC Emma (go here to discuss!), I am not altogether against eggs. We’re lucky enough to keep some chickens which crap free range all over the yard. Despite having pretty much the best eggs available to humanity, I’m not a huge fan of the breakfast egg. In fact while I love eggs in quiches, frittatas or a nice spanish-style tortilla, I almost never face off an egg straight up.

We often have two breakfasts on weekends. The first is emergency carbo loading of early waking children, usually porridge, often at an inhumane hour. A hour or so later is still a very long time before morning tea, let alone lunch. This weekend’s second breakfast was baked eggs, from a recipe in the Sydney Morning Herald/Age weekend colour magazine last month by Andrew McCo. I ripped the end of his name off, poor love, and the paper doesn’t seem to include the weekend recipes on their zhuszhy site. So sorry, Andrew.

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Lebanese breakfast pizza and other coincidences

Phil Lees writes a terrific blog called The Last Appetite and has just started a world food blog at the SBS television site, cooking from the Food Safari back catalogue. It should be fantastic, as his writing is characterised by great humour and expertise. I have already left a comment asking him to do something about Maeve O’Meara’s shirts, so no need for you to worry about that.

maeve-fashion

Coincidently I caught the last bit of SBS Food Safari last night, where O’Meara explored Lebanese food. The last item, running quickly over the credits, was a breakfast pizza called manouche. Owen started groaning about how good it looked – and as we’d coincidently had pizza for dinner and there was coincidently some dough left over I told him he was in luck.

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Learn from my failures: how not to make recipe substitutions

I nearly called this post “I can believe they’re not Nigella’s Breakfast Bars!”

Like the lipsmacking voluptuary, I’m not much of a morning eater. I also like the idea of yummy home-made snacky bars to shove down the throats of starving children. I remembered hearing that Lawson’s recipe was a good one, and a quick googlescout unearthed it here.

It involves mixing a large quantity of relatively healthy sounding muesli-ish things with a whopping great can of sweetened condensed milk. It didn’t say “sweetened” but I that’s the only kind, isn’t it? The dulce de leche kind? I had everything but in the cupboard, so I decided to make it up as I went along.

I had some evaporated (unsweetened, low-fat) milk, but it seemed utterly wrong. What I needed was a certain … an unctuousness, a delectable musky sweetness – as Nigella well might say and indeed probably has ; ) Best I could do was mixing up a bunch of fruity sugary sticky things and hoping like hell that would bind the oats, coconut, seeds, nuts and dried fruit:

nigella breakfast bar Not a can of sweetened condensed milk

3/4 C sliced dried figs
1 T apple juice concentrate
dried orange peel
1/2 C water

Bring all ingredients to the boil in a small saucepan then cover and turn the heat off. (That is if you use proper dried figs that are actually dry, not those odd “soft juicy figs” that have a weird cola aroma and no texture to speak of. If you’re using those ones just carry on and never mind waiting.)

Stabblender the cooled mix with half a cup of apricot jam, and then add water to make it up to 1 1/2 cups and stir it into your dry ingredients. Bake for an hour at 130 C, grateful that you sniffed something awry with the “250 degrees” the recipe stated on Northern hemisphere sites.

btw, THAT PICTURE IS EFFING LIES! The result was horribly crumbly – you could excavate a “bar” from the tin with some effort, but they were flaccid and unappetising. Even thought they were a complete failure in textural terms, they did turn out to be very tasty muesli once you’d properly crumbled them up. I’ve just made up a second batch for Owen at his request.

Notes:
I used half (soaked) goji berries and half currants, a mixture of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds and cashews in place of peanuts. To make the recipe again in the hope of making sturdier bars would require increasing the quantity of binding fluid. I’d still use the figgy mix but I’d add the sweetened condensed milk to make up the quantity (and perhaps a bit more) instead of the water I used here.


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